ORLANDO, Fla. Jim Lorentz Jersey . -- Tiger Woods was a large part of the conversation on the eve of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. And hes not even playing. Woods is missing Bay Hill for only the second time in his career when the tournament starts Thursday on a course that Palmer said is in the best shape ever. Woods has won eight times, including the last two years, but he called the 84-year-old host on Tuesday to say persistent back pain will keep him from playing. "He didnt tell me how bad his back is. I dont think he knows how bad his back is," Palmer said. "I think hes listening to the doctors. And he mentioned that theyre saying that he needs to give it a bit of a rest and see if he can work it out. He was very nice. And I, of course, have great sympathy for the fact that he tried like hell to come here and play. And I appreciate that and the fact that he called. "I think he wanted to play golf this week," Palmer said. "I think that he needs to take (time) -- whether its this week, next week or the following week -- to get ready for Augusta. Certainly, if I were in that position, Id be doing much the same." Most of the chatter was more about the future with Woods. Will he play at the Masters? Stuck on 14 majors for the last five years, can he match or surpass the record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus? And what will be the larger obstacle -- his age (38), his health (legs and back) or the competition (long list)? "I dont think 38 years is the ultimate stopping point for his quest to do what Jack did," Palmer said. "I think it lessens the possibility of that happening. Its going to be tough. Its going to be tough to keep the concentration and the type of the game that is necessary to win majors." Nicklaus won four of his majors after turning 38. Ben Hogan, with battered legs from a car accident, won five majors after turning 38. Palmer, however, believes more than age is at stake for Woods. "These young guys are tough, and theyre strong," Palmer said. "And if they continue to play as well as theyve been playing, its going to be tough for anybody -- whether it be Nicklaus or Tiger or whomever it would be -- to continue to win major championships. And were talking about guys that are playing good and coming on." Palmer actually had a list of players he was talking about. Some of them were young, such as Chris Kirk and Harris English. Others had either won this season (Ryan Moore) or played well recently (Robert Garrigus). "I dont know how many you want me to name," Palmer said. "But really, the strength and the ability of these people is very pleasing to me." Graeme McDowell, a runner-up to Woods two years at Bay Hill, said he can understand what the No. 1 player is going through with injuries. He also believes that competition might be an even larger obstacle than his health for Woods to break Nicklaus record. "Hes a physical player who creates a lot of speed and a lot of power and his body is starting to struggle a little bit, no doubt about it," McDowell said. "But Im sure hell fix it. ... But we all talk about how good the fields are nowadays. Taking Tigers fitness and physicality out of it, winning major championships is getting harder and harder for everyone -- including the best player maybe thats ever lived in Tiger. "Hes got more than just his body to be fighting. Theres a lot of great players in the world now," McDowell said. "Its going to be harder for him to achieve Jacks record. But if anyone can do it, Im sure he can find a way because we all know how good he is." The field at Bay Hill is not as strong as usual, starting with the absence of Woods, the No. 1 player in the world and an eight-time winner of this event. Match Play champion Jason Day (No. 4 in the world) pulled out with recurring pain in his thumb, and Phil Mickelson (No. 5) is not playing this year. Not that it would change the dynamics of what already has been a peculiar season. With 18 tournaments in the books this season, Zach Johnson is the only player to win a PGA Tour event while ranked among the top 10 in the world. The Masters is three weeks away. Is it time for the stars to come out? "Hopefully, this one does," Masters champion Adam Scott said, pointing to himself with a laugh. "But as far as unexpected winners, it seems to me thats happening more and more in golf. There are more and more guys breaking through, putting in a lot of hard work and getting what they deserve. So I think weve seen a bit of a shift in the game over the last couple of years -- a lot less domination by top players." Marco Scandella Jersey . - Jerome Verrier scored the winner 8:24 into overtime and Louis-Phillip Guindon stopped 46 shots as the Drummondville Voltigeurs edged the host Val-dOr Foreurs 4-3 on Friday in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoff action. Ryan Miller Jersey . -- Miguel Angel Jimenez quickly shifted his focus back to the Ryder Cup after winning his first Champions Tour event.DENVER -- Frank Morales didnt try to paint corners or make perfect pitches. Instead, his strategy was relatively simple: Just pitch the ball and see what happens. In this instance, a lot of good things. Morales was masterful on the mound as he outdueled Madison Bumgarner, leading the Colorado Rockies to a 2-1 win over the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night. "Frankies a tough competitor," manager Walt Weiss said. "He was absolutely huge tonight." Morales (2-1) knew it was his night when he unleashed his first sinker and it danced all over the place. He decided right then and there that he wasnt going to be too fine with his splitter or his cutter or even his sinker, just let the pitch do what it naturally does. The hard-throwing lefty allowed five hits over seven innings, which matches the longest outing of his career. His only mistake was a hanging slider to Hunter Pence in the fifth, which he hit for a homer. "I wanted to make sure the hitter is uncomfortable with my pitches," Morales said. Bumgarner (2-2) was nearly as effective as Morales, his only slipups on fastballs to Troy Tulowitzki and Nolan Arenado, whos solo shot in the fifth put the Rockies ahead for good. Bumgarner allowed nine hits in eight innings. It was the first complete game by a Giants starter in 2014 and third of Bumgarners career. "Im not frustrated for myself. We should be winning all these games right now, but just going through a rough patch," said Bumgarner, whose team has dropped five of six. "Its just about getting out of it as quick as you can." Morales hasnt fared all that well against San Francisco in his career, entering the game with a 0-3 mark and a 6.57 ERA. But he handcuffed the Giants most of the game. He worked his way into a jam in his seventh and final inning when he allowed a two-out double to his counterpart, Bumgarner. Morales struck out Angel Pagan with a sinking cutter -- his 99th pitch of the night -- to end the threat. Morales pumped his fist and let out a scream before heading toward the dugout. "All game I was throwing only fastballs away to (Pagan)," Morales explained. "I was like, OK, its time to throw my cutter down and in. Hes not looking for that pitch." No, he wasnt. PPagan wasnt the only Giant guessing at Morales assortment of pitches. Pierre Turgeon Jersey. "Morales, hes just got good stuff," said Pence, who hit his second homer of the season. "A lot of life on his fastball." Things got a little shaky for Colorado in the eighth, when the Giants had runners on first and second with one out. Rex Brothers was summoned and enticed Pablo Sandoval to hit into a double play to quell the rally. Same thing with the ninth, when LaTroy Hawkins took over after Brothers got the first out of the inning. Hawkins walked pinch hitter Brandon Crawford and allowed a single to Gregor Blanco, who was also pinch hitting. Hector Sanchez, the third straight pinch hitter, struck out and Pagan bounced out to short to end the comeback bid. Arenado hit a solo shot into the seats in left to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 13 games. Hes hitting .365 during the streak, with two homers and six RBIs. Tulowitzki flashed his fielding skills in the top of the fourth and hitting proficiency in the bottom half. With runners at first and second and one out, the smooth-fielding shortstop dove in the hole to snare Joaquin Arias grounder, quickly getting up and throwing to second for a force out. That prevented a potential run from scoring. Tulowitzki then caught Ehire Adrianzas shallow fly to left to get the Rockies out of the sticky situation. Leading off in the bottom of the frame, Tulowitzki homered to left-centre. It was his third homer of the season. Mixing a 93-mph fastball with a late-moving cutter, Bumgarner kept the Rockies off balance most of the night in a hard-luck loss. "Bum pitched great. He did a real nice job," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Complete game, two runs in this ballpark. Thats a nice effort." NOTES: Adrianza wore jersey No. 6 instead of No. 53. ... The last Giants starter to throw a complete game in a loss was Barry Zito on June 18, 2010, at Toronto. ... RHP Matt Cain (0-3) searches for his first win of the season in the series finale Wednesday. The Rockies will throw RHP Tyler Chatwood (1-0). ... The Rockies have won five of six. ... The previous time Morales pitched seven innings was June 28, 2012, at Seattle when he was with Boston. ' ' '
Tiger Woods was a large part of the conve
Tiger Woods was a large part of the conve